Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last Monarchs of the season?

I was excited to see Monarch caterpillars chewing on the leaves of my newest milkweed, Aesclepias incarnata, or swamp milkweed.  I have several other swamp milkweed plants, which have seeded themselves in from one I bought at a garden center several years back. But those other plants are cultivars of Aesclepias incarnata, probably 'Ice ballet.' The flower of this cultivar is white, whereas my new plant is the straight species, with pink flowers. There is always the question with cultivars of native plants as to whether wildlife, especially insects, will be be able to feed on  them. I'm for the true natives when possible, and perhaps the caterpillars felt the same!

Several days later, I saw a lovely chrysalis hanging from one of my tomato cage supports. The  Monarch chrysalis, with its beautiful jade color and delicate threading of gold near the top always makes me think of stunning piece of jewelry.  In the photo you can actually just make out a bit of the colors of the caterpillar from inside the chrysalis!

Not too many days later there was just a papery empty shell left. Hopefully there's one more lovely Monarch flittering about, or perhaps heading down to Mexico. Here's a neat link with some information about the Monarch lifecycle plus video of one emerging.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ruby at Rest

OK, I finally got a hummingbird picture where the bird is at least visible. Next goal - Ruby in motion. I talked to someone recently who is an international birdwatcher and photographs all the birds he sees. He explained that to capture a hummingbird in motion, try using the sports setting on a digital camera.